The Nashville punks' headline Manchester show was a joyous workout
Nashville punks Snõõper play with all the breakneck speed and energy of the wildest hardcore band you’ve ever seen. But the vibe at the excitingly cramped YES Basement on Tuesday night couldn’t be further from the intimidating, tough-guy atmosphere you might imagine at such a show. Everything Snõõper does is in service to absolute silliness and fun; from the students with dyed mullets to the older punks in leather jackets, Snõõper are encouraging everyone here to have the time of their life.
Three-fifths of the band, guitarists Connor Cummins and Conner Sullivan and bassist Happy Haugen (they’re completed by vocalist Blair Tramel and drummer Cam Sarrett), are wearing the Snõõper uniform of garish ‘90s tracksuits and sunglasses. Cummins wears a whistle around his neck, which he blows occasionally and hilariously to mark song transitions. The goofy parody of self-serious athleticism extends to their track ‘Fitness’ (“Lift weight, mutate / Await my fate / Bench press, excess / Obsess, fitness”), which both on the record and live ends with a sample of a bodybuilder explaining his route to winning Best Poser at the Louisiana Championships. “I try and go real fast through the workouts, not a lot of resting and everything,” the disembodied voice says.
That much is true of Snõõper’s set too. Their songs, most of them sub-two minutes, tend to follow the formula of rapid-fire chords and simple, sloganistic vocals. The sound is always scuzzy and garagey. Different tracks blur together as they storm through the set, which gets through something like 16 songs plus an encore in just over half an hour. There’s no talking besides a quick thanks to the crowd for coming; whenever the band do need to take a break, for water and much-needed breath-catching, they keep the momentum going with sound-collage samples.
The effect is mesmerising. The band members flail around in a frenzy, like they’re wrangling their instruments under control — or they unite for choreographed moves like jogging on the spot or swinging back and forth. Bassist Haugen gets into the crowd once or twice, and at one point goes for a triumphant crowd-surf. Vocalist Tramel sings like she’s stretching her vocal cords as far as they can go, while she pogos and frantically dances. All the while, the mosh pit is unceasing, and through the tumult you can catch flashes of big smiles. The debut album they put out this year, Super Snõõper, promised a good time; live, this whirlwind of sound and motion delivers.